When Andy Murray won Wimbledon last year there was so much jubilation at a British winner after almost 80 years that it would have seemed churlish to start asking questions about his longer term prospects, especially considering he had won the US Open and Olympics the year before. Surely here was a player guaranteed legendary status and a place in history for these achievements.
The fact that this is possibly true says more about the impoverishment of British tennis ambition and achievement than the relative status of these successes. The history of world tennis is strewn with players who have won one or two Grand Slam events and then receded back to relative non-entity - remember Michael Chang, Michael Stich, Vitas Gerulatis, Pat Cash, Andy Roddick, Goran Ivanisevic, Yannick Noah - and the list goes on.
In fact there have been 31 men's Slam champions who have only one one or two championships in the open era alone (since 1968). By contrast the 14 top players from this period amassed 122 championships between them - an average of almost 9 per player. The four leading men - Federer, Sampras, Nadal and Borg were responsible for 56 titles; so these players have set the bar for what could be considered greatness.
So where does Andy Murray stand and what are his prospects? The 12-month period since his Wimbledon triumph would suggest that it will continue to be difficult for the Scot to establish himself in anything like a prominent position on the ladder of tennis greats. To be fair he has had injuries and now a change of coach which haven't helped.
He also has had to contend with three of the greatest players of all-time competing for the prizes that he needs to get a foothold. It is probably only a matter of time until Djokovic is in the top four so what chance for Murray?
There is no doubt he is a considerable talent and has made significant adjustments and improvements to his game in the past couple of years but his initial inability to break through and win a Grand Slam, having lost three to Federer and one to Djokovic before finally triumphing in the US Open in 2012, might suggest a mental weakness that other great champions didn't have.
And remember, for a significant period around this time Nadal was injured or recovering from injury. It could have been even more difficult for Murray had Nadal been fully fit and firing on all cylinders.
It is still too early to judge Murray's achievements and he might well go on to win several more Slam events and become one of the true all-time greats. If he does he will certainly have earned it as neither Nadal nor Djokovic look anywhere near finished winning majors and, as there is only about a year in age between all three they are likely to continue as obstacles in the Scot's path to future titles..
Perhaps Murray will go the way of all the other British successes since the war - Angela Mortimer, Christine Truman, Shirley Bloomer and Ann Jones plus of course Virginia Wade and Sue Barker all won majors but none could advance past three titles.
Of course even this was infinitely better than in the men's game where British victories had been completely absent since Fred Perry in the 1930s. At least Murray has broken that hoodoo and added a second title and the Olympic gold for good measure.
Who knows - if he can recover from recent setbacks and reconstruct his game to anything like the extent Nadal has managed, maybe there are more major successes in his future. Let us hope so for the sake of British - and world - tennis.
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